There really is no replacement for the experience of going through childbirth. However, that doesn’t mean you should go into it completely blind. One thing many second-time, third-time, and repeating mothers discover is just how little they knew during the first go around. If you’re getting closer and closer to that momentous occasion, here are a few ways you can make sure that you’re as well prepared for your baby as can be.
Forget the negativity
It’s important to heed warnings about how things like a bad diet, lack of activity, and certain foods can impact the health of both mother and baby. However, you would do well not to dwell too much on some of the negative or scary comments you might hear about childbirth. From the news of this or that disease affecting newborns to passing comments on how you’ll “definitely need a C-section” from an acquaintance. Unless your doctor’s giving you advice, don’t take these passing comments too seriously. Stress is one of the things that can make your perception of pain during childbirth worse, so while you might not be able to do away with the nerves entirely, there’s no need to listen to sources of additional stress to go with it.
Build stamina and resilience
You better believe that childbirth is a workout. As with any workout, the better conditioned your body is for it, the easier you will be able to repeat it. Squatting is a great example of an exercise that can help during childbirth, by increasing the size of your pelvic opening. Furthermore, prenatal yoga is good strength training for the body, building stamina and helping you remain flexible. Not only will it diminish the feelings of things like back pain and stress during the pregnancy, but you’ll be in a better shape to get through childbirth, as well. It’s still going to be exhausting, but at least your body will be a little bit better prepared for it. Before you decide how much exercise you do or what types, it’s recommended you talk to your doctor about a fitness plan, first, of course.
Practice makes perfect
The sooner you sign up for a childbirth class, the better. However, it’s never too late to join one if you can find space for them. In most cases, they take around 10-12 weeks and they cover a wide range of information, from the stages of birth, what’s going on physiologically, to ways to induce labor when the time comes. What’s more, it’s the perfect place to get any questions off your chest, including those that you might have thought were irrelevant or too “silly” to bring up during your appointments. A childbirth class gives you a very good idea of what to actually expect from labor, so you can get through it with fewer surprises.
Know when it’s coming
When you’re getting closer and closer, you’re going to be keenly attuned to the signs that labor is starting. Having your water break is an obvious one, but contractions can sometimes be misleading. False labor is when you experience a type of contraction that can start appearing anywhere after 28 weeks. To make sure that you’re not having a false labor, Bloomlife is a smart pregnancy tracker for contractions that can help you measure it out. If you’re experiencing false labor, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions, shifting your position and walking around can ease them off. If they don’t subside, that’s a sign it’s the real deal.
Know the where, who, and how
When labor does hit, you should have a plan that’s ready to get rolling as soon as you realize what’s happening. This is what’s called the birth plan, and What To Expect covers a wide range of questions you should consider for that plan. It’s a plan for the benefit of you and whoever is with you, such as who is the birth partner, where you are giving birth, and so on. But it’s also a handy list of preferences that your partner can reference when you’re dealing with the healthcare providers, such as birthing positions, pain medications or alternatives, water birth preferences, and so on. You don’t want to be dealing with those questions when the big moment arrives, after all.
Have a bag packed
When you’re getting closer to the due date, preferably as soon as you’re into the third trimester, you should put together a bag of all the essentials you will need during and after the childbirth process. This can include things like scented candles or music that can help you remain relaxed and positive once the show gets on the road. But it should also include essentials, like a change of clothes, underwear, something to eat, and so on. The Bump has a host of different items to consider for the all-important labor bag. When possible, ensure the bag is accessible or that someone can at least pick it up when it’s time to go to the hospital.
Chat with other moms
When it comes to straightforward medical questions about the birth, your doctor should be your first port of call. However, when it comes to the emotional or social implications of being a new mom, then other moms are the best people to turn to. Many of them have lived through the challenges you might face for the first few months, whether it’s postpartum depression, a decrease in libido, or something else. The BabyCenter birth clubs are just one place to turn to for discussions with moms in all stages of birthing and raising a child. Finding people who are willing to talk about their experiences can help you get through your own and help you build a realistic expectation of what it’s like.
The tips above can help you feel a lot more confident that you have things handled for when the baby comes knocking. Yes, it’s still going to be a dramatically new experience, and it can be a tough one. However, getting prepared and knowing what to expect can still pave the way for a much better ride than otherwise.